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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Near Dark [Blu-ray]


(Kathryn Bigelow, 1987)



Review by Gary Tooze



Distribution: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG)

Video: Lions Gate



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:34:13.272

Disc Size: 22,715,946,136 bytes

Feature Size: 19,473,048,000 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.97 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 10th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1548 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1548 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), English, Spanish, none



• Commentary with director Kathryn Bigelow

Living in Darkness (47:17 in SD)

• One Deleted Scene with commentary by director Kathryn Bigelow in black and white (1:17)

• 2 Theatrical Trailers and a Lions Gate advertisement





Description: A young cowboy is seduced by a new girl in town only to find out he has been kissed by a vampire. Slowly turning into a creature of the night, he is persuaded to join up with the girl and a roaming band of ghouls. But when his own father and sister become targets in the vampires' endless search for 'food,' he is forced to choose between loyalty to the vampires, or loyalty his own family. 'Near Dark' is a stylish and brutal mixture of horror, western, and action conventions from director Kathryn Bigelow ('Strange Days') that ranks among the best vampire movies ever made.



The Film:

A full-blooded vampire movie which gives the well-worn mythology a much-needed transfusion by stripping away the Gothic trappings and concentrating instead on a pack of nocturnal nomads who roam the sun-parched farmlands of the modern Midwest. Kissed by a pale, mysterious girl from out of town, it soon dawns on farmboy Caleb that Mae's love-bite has infected him with a burning desire - for blood. Subsequently snatched by Mae's vagabond pals, Caleb is gradually seduced by their exciting night-life. So, despite his reluctance to make a 'kill', Caleb is soon caught between his blood sister and his blood relatives - father and younger sister - who are in hot pursuit. Western iconography, noir-ish lighting, and visceral horror are fused with an affecting love story in this stylish 'Vampire Western', which (unlike Bigelow's rather static debut feature The Loveless) is driven forward at a scorching pace, a subtle study in the seductiveness of evil and a terrifying ride to the edge of darkness.

Excerpt from Time Out Film Guide located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Since I haven't seen the highly touted Anchor Bay DVD release of this film, it may be prudent of me to get a hold of it to compare. This Lions Gate transfer to Blu-ray has plenty of weaknesses. There is something really wrong with this aside from what I perceive as a heavy use of grain-removing DNR or rendering from a non-HD source. Even moderate zooming in produces very ugly artifacts. The film starts with a Studio Canal logo just like the less-than-stellar AVC UK single-layered Blu-ray that took up almost the same disc space. It has been suggested that this may have simply been bumped from a standard definition transfer - and it wouldn't surprise me at all. There is a lot of unsavory noise in the film's heavy darkness. This Blu-ray doesn't reflect the type of presentation that adopters of the new format will expect and hope for. Many scenes are unduly soft and this is not a very beneficial move to 1080P. It may look better than the last DVD - I don't know - but it is one of the least impressive Blu-ray images I've ever seen.


















Audio :

This, suspiciously, gives the same two audio options as the ineffectual UK Blu-ray. A reasonably weak DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1548 kbps and a 2.0 channel stereo linear PCM track at 2304 kbps. I didn't do extensive testing but couldn't identify a lot of difference in the tracks. The surround option doesn't seem to support much separation to the rears and the LPCM may be cleaner - or at least a bit better in the high end - which I preferred. The disc offers English or Spanish subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

Supplements sport the same Kathryn Bigelow commentary from the 2002 Anchor Bay DVD. She talks a good game and it's easy to see that she knows her stuff although is somewhat reserved in her discussion of opinions. We also get the rehashed 47-minute Living in Darkness documentary with a genuinely happy cast and crew, including director, fondly discussing the production, and there is a minute-17 second, black + white, deleted scene with Bigelow commentary. There are also two theatrical trailers and a Lions Gate advertisement.



I going to try to get my hands on the DVD since I think the film had some unique merit although being aware of the Blu-ray transfer weaknesses was definitely spoiling my viewing pleasure. It's a very interesting horror within a western motif. We can't recommend this Blu-ray - at least not until we have compared it to the older DVD. For now I'd say 'pass' or keep your visual expectations at the low end of the scale if you do decide to indulge. 

Gary Tooze

November 3rd, 2009





About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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